The Lite Side

Bill Gates Goes to Heaven

Dan Knight - 2001.06.04

Here's a tale we originally posted on LEM back in 1997 and somehow lost as we moved from server to server. It's a personal favorite.

Bill Gates died and, much to everyone's surprise, went to Heaven. When he got there, he had to wait in the reception area.

Heaven's reception area was the size of Massachusetts. There were literally millions of people milling about, living in tents with nothing to do all day. Food and water were being distributed from the backs of trucks, while staffers with clipboards slowly worked their way through the crowd.

Bill lived in a tent for three weeks until one of the staffers finally approached him. The staffer was a young man in his late teens, face scarred with acne. He was wearing a blue T-shirt with the words TEAM PETER emblazoned on it in large yellow letters.

"Hello," said the staffer in a bored voice that could have been the voice of any clerk in any overgrown bureaucracy. "My name is Gabriel, and I'll be your induction coordinator."

Bill started to ask a question, but Gabriel interrupted him. "No, I'm not the Archangel Gabriel. I'm just a guy from Philadelphia named Gabriel. Now give me your name, last name first."

"Gates, Bill."

Gabriel started searching though the sheaf of papers on his clipboard, looking for Bill's Record of Earthly Works.

"What's going on here?" asked Bill. "Why are all these people here? Where's Saint Peter? Where are the Pearly Gates?"

Gabriel ignored the questions until he located Bill's records. Then Gabriel looked up in surprise.

"It says here that you were the president of a large software company. Is that right?"

"Yes."

"Heaven is decades behind in building its data processing infrastructure," explained Gabriel. "As you've seen, we're still doing everything on paper. It takes us a week just to process new entries."

"I had to wait three weeks," said Bill.

Abraham stared at Bill angrily, and Bill realized that he'd made a mistake. Even in Heaven, it's best not to contradict a bureaucrat.

"Well then, do the math. When Saint Peter started, it was an easy gig. Only a hundred or so people died every day, and Peter could handle it all by himself, no problem. But now there are six billion people on earth. With that large a population, ten thousand people die every hour. Over a quarter-million people a day. Do you think Peter can meet them all personally?"

"I guess not."

"You guess right. Peter had to franchise the operation. Now he's the CEO of Team Peter Enterprises, Inc. He just sits in the corporate headquarters and sets policy. Franchisees like me handle the actual induction."

Gabriel looked though his paperwork some more and continued. "Your paperwork seems to be in order. And with a background like yours, you'll be getting a plum job assignment."

"Job assignment?"

"Of course. Did you expect to spend the rest of eternity sitting around and drinking ambrosia? Heaven is a big operation. You have to pull your weight."

Gabriel took out a triplicate form, had Bill sign at the bottom, and then tore out the middle copy and handed it to Bill.

"Take this down to induction center #23 and meet up with your occupational orientator. His name is Abraham."

Bill started to ask a question, but Gabriel interrupted him. "No, he's not that Abraham."

Bill walked down a muddy trail for ten miles until he came to induction center #23. He met with Abraham after a mere six-hour wait.

"Well," Bill offered, "maybe that Bosnia thing has you guys backed up."

Abraham's look of anger faded to mere annoyance. "Your job will be to supervise Heaven's new data processing center. We're building the largest computing facility ever - a half million computers connected by a multisegment fiber optic network, all running into a backend server network with a thousand CPUs on a gigabit channel. Fully fault tolerant. Fully distributed processing. The works."

Bill could barely contain his excitement. "Wow! What a great job! This really is Heaven!"

"We're just finishing construction, and we'll be starting operations soon. Would you like to go see the center now?"

"You bet!"

Abraham and Bill caught the shuttle bus and went to Heaven's new data processing center. It was a truly huge facility, a hundred times bigger than the Astrodome. Workmen were crawling all over the place, getting the miles of fiber optic cables properly installed.

The center was dominated by the computers - a half million computers, arranged neatly row-by-row, a half million Macintoshes, each running FileMaker Pro and AppleWorks.

Not a PC in sight!

Not a single byte of Microsoft code!

The thought of spending the rest of eternity using products that he had spent his whole life working to destroy was too much for Bill.

"What about PCs?" he exclaimed. "What about Windows? What about Excel? What about Word?"

"You're forgetting something," said Abraham.

"What's that?" asked Bill plaintively.

"This is Heaven," explained Abraham. "We need a computer system that's heavenly to use. If you want to build a data processing center based on PCs running Windows, you'll have to go to Hell."

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